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face. O'Connell then retired through a side door, where Colonel Browne, the Chief Commissioner of Police, was waiting to receive him. Browne, who is alive still, told me that he had his own carriage drawn close up to the outer door, into which he handed the State prisoner, taking a seat by his side and drawing up the blinds. Crowds of frieze-clad peasants lined the quays; an angry scowl was upon every face; and an infuriated multitude surged through the streets of the metropolis. The morning was gloomy; thick flakes of snow were beginning to fall; deep execrations filled the air as the popular favourite was borne slowly away, for the coachman was unable to move his horses faster than at a foot-pace. Observing this state of affairs, and that the angry mob was pressing close upon the carriage, Colonel Browne, who in his time had led more than one forlorn hope, told me that he felt the emergency of the situation. He took out a case of loaded pistols, cocked and laid them upon his knee. When O'Connell saw this, he smiled. A wise precaution,' he said, 'but useless. If I were only to raise my hand you would be in eternity; and these words which he uttered were full of significant meaning. When its passions are roused a Dublin mob is very terrible. It took a Chief-Justice out of his carriage once, and tore him to pieces on the spot. One word from O'Connell on that morning would have caused a revolution. Formidable military precautions had been taken-the troops were under arms, cannons were so placed as to command the thoroughfares-but I do believe that if the signal had been given, the whole country would have arisen; and to annihilate an entire nation by grape-shot would not have been an easy matter. The prisoner was conveyed in safety to Kilmainham, but for many days afterwards the prison was surrounded by an infuriated throng. There never, I believe, lived in the history of any country a man who had the same extraordinary hold over the affections of an entire nation as O'Connell had over the Irish. He was the greatest popular leader ever known. No one who reads these pages can, I apprehend, form any adequate idea of what those monster meetings were which this man called together and inflamed with his fiery vigorous eloquence. From the summit of some hill, where the tribune took up a commanding position, you could have seen-thousands deep-the serried and compact ranks of vigorous men (the stature of the Irish peasant usually averages six feet), whose eager upturned faces vibrated with every emotion called forth by the impassioned orator. These were the manner of men this tribune led. They believed every word which fell from his lips, and they would have followed him to the cannon's mouth, or to the gates of a place which is unmentionable. And when I think of his unbounded influence, the formidable organisation he had created, with the priesthood at his back, and through them the entire populace, and remember how he failed in attaining the object of his
ambition, and contrast with that organisation the puny movement in favour of Home Rule, which is but a repeal of the Union in another form, led by an unstable Queen's Counsel, then all I can say upon the subject to my countrymen is-Don't they wish they may get it!
Notwithstanding Grattan's assertion to the contrary, I believe O'Connell's patriotism was a genuine sentiment. He incurred much obloquy by collecting rent in pence from the people, which amounted often to many thousands a year; but then it must be remembered that he gave up a large professional income in order to be enabled to devote his entire energies to the redress of what he thought their grievances. He was admitted on all hands to be the ablest lawyer of his day. He could drive, as he boasted, a coach and four through any Act of Parliament. No jury could withstand his influence; he played upon their passions, their sympathies, and their prejudices as if they were the chords of some musical instrument. He was the greatest verdict-getter at the Irish Bar; and his subtlety in an argument would baffle the ingenuity of the subtlest judicial intellect. This man had within his grasp the very highest distinctions open to honourable professional ambition-he might have been Lord Chancellor with a peerage-but he threw them all away to follow a chimera; and the lesson his career teaches should be laid to heart by any professional agitator who tries to follow his footsteps. The end of all was that he died at last brokenhearted and worn out in a foreign country. But who shall say he was not sincere? Notwithstanding the enormous sums which passed through his hands in the entire patronage of Ireland, which the Government placed at his disposal, he died not worth one shilling, and was in circumstances of pecuniary embarrassment during the latter part of his life. I know, upon very good authority, that having occasion once for the sum of 500l. he was obliged to borrow it on a mortgage of his law library. The lender afterwards called in the money. O'Connell could not command it; he was obliged to apply to another lender; and this mortgage was transferred time after time, and it was in existence up to the very last day of his life.
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